To preserve a clearly defined set of primary sources and rare books—reflecting the written, visual, and audio history of Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain region, and select aspects of the American past—and to make those sources accessible to all. Our diverse collections support casual inquiry and international scholarship; most importantly, we play an active and creative role in the teaching and research missions of the university.
The American Heritage Center aspires to be widely acknowledged—by the University community, by the people of Wyoming, by scholars world-wide, and by our professional peers--as one of the nation’s finest special collections repositories, bringing international distinction to the University of Wyoming by advancing scholarly research and education at the university and beyond.
More than 100 years ago, Grace Raymond Hebard—UW faculty member, administrator, librarian, and Wyoming historian—began collecting the papers and reminiscences of Wyoming’s pioneers. Her research on the history of Wyoming, the West, emigrant trails, and Native Americans became the nucleus for what is known today as the AHC.
The AHC was officially established in 1945. In the decades that followed, nearly 70,000 cubic feet of historically important documents and artifacts were acquired. The AHC is among the largest non-governmental archives in the nation.
In 1993 the AHC and the University Art Museum occupied the multiple-award-winning Centennial Complex. Internationally-acclaimed architect Antoine Predock says of his building's unique design: "Throughout Wyoming there is a sense of landscape in formation.... The appearance of this ‘archival' mountain can be thought of as parallel to the slow but certain geologic upheaval."
The AHC occupies 60 percent of the building's 127,000 square feet. The AHC's portion of the complex is named for Eleanor Chatterton Kennedy, daughter of a former Wyoming governor, and for Joe and Arlene Watt, cattle ranchers and descendants of Wyoming pioneers.
Select rooms in our facility are available for public use. To inquire, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Bookings are subject to approval by the AHC Director.